The Founder of Mid-century Design
Mark McDonald has always been at the epicenter of the world that is mid-century design, to a large extent, it is a world he created. For over forty years, Mark has pioneered whole fields of collecting, providing the scholarship and creating the market for mid-century furniture, studio jewelry, ceramics and Italian glass.
In 1983, Mark opened Fifty/50 with partners Mark Isaacson and Ralph Cutler. This groundbreaking gallery defined collectors’ taste. At the time, modern works were still largely overlooked; Mark and his partners collected and presented the rarest and most interesting pieces, often working with the makers themselves, to create compelling exhibitions accompanied by catalogs documenting the work.
In the 1990s, Mark opened Gansevoort Gallery, where he continued to curate collections and exhibitions of lasting impact. Over the years, he established relationships with artists and their estates becoming the go to authority on the designs of Art Smith, Ilonka Karasz and Leza McVey, among others. His enthusiasm for the material extended beyond the gallery floor to the back room where lucky visitors got to flip through Mark’s impressive design reference library and discuss the importance of works with him.
A connoisseur and wealth of knowledge, Mark became a resource for prominent collections across the globe—private and public alike. He inspired a generation of collectors and dealers introducing designers and their production to an audience that continues to grow. In 2002, Mark closed Gansevoort and established 330 gallery in Hudson, New York. Now, semi-retired, Marks splits his time between New York and Florida. He still collects, curates, supports, and shepherds the scholarship of mid-century design.
Italian-American artist, sculptor and designer Alfonso Iannelli was born in Andretta, Italy in 1888 and immigrated to the United States as a small child. Somewhat overlooked, he spent most of his life in Chicago, working with noteworthy architects, designers and artists, and is only recently garnering long-overdue recognition for his prolific and noble body of work.
Early in his career, Iannelli was invited to collaborate with Frank Lloyd Wright on sculptures of the Midway Gardens project. The young artist created several of the Sprite sculptures for gardens, which Wright would ultimately take credit for. Authorship issues aside, the Midway project marked Iannelli’s first explorations in fusing organic sculpture with the geometric forms of architecture, believing that the movement of the sculpture must flow from the structure itself. Alongside his artistic practice, Iannelli was a talented designer, producing hundreds of posters early in his career for the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, illustrating his distinct aesthetic and deft skills as a draftsman.
In 1924, he visited Europe and was introduced to the radical style of Fernand Léger, Oskar Schlemmer and the Bauhaus movement. The experience greatly influenced Iannelli and by the 1930s his sculptures had evolved into more simplified, modern forms. His studio in Park Ridge, Illinois—opened with his wife and illustrator Margaret—grew to become a gathering place for the local artistic community, spurring numerous collaborations and forays into commercial design and advertising. The C-20 Coffeemaster vacuum coffee maker and an electric toaster for Sunbeam Products are among his most well-known industrial creations, however, Iannelli remains best remembered for his remarkably prolific career as devoted artist and designer.
Auction Results Alfonso Iannelli
Adair & Adair Comedy Bar Act, original art for the Orpheum Theater
Design #3 Sanctuary Lamp for St. Francis Xavier Church, Kansas City, MO